13 March 2015

Did my child really say that at school?

Many years ago as a new Deputy Principal I wandered into a Year 2 class while they were doing 'Show and Tell'. This is sometimes called Morning Talks or News or some variation on that theme. A little boy was proudly showing the class some photos of his parents that he had found in their bedside table. I could see the teacher about to have a conniption and children's eyes getting rounder by the millisecond. I quickly collected the photos, distracted the children with a joke, introduced the next speaker and glided out of the door. I collapsed at my desk half in laughter and half in horror about the conversation I now needed to have with the little boy's parents.

I tell this story not as a warning to parents to lock up their private lives but as an insight into the sharing that goes on between staff and children in the classroom. Children tell their teachers, teacher aides, volunteers, and other kids all kinds of things that they see and overhear at home. Most parents would be horrified, frankly, if they had an inkling of the content of some of these stories.

Teachers, however, are not horrified. They are professional and skilled enough to understand that the way a child sees the world from their shoes and current levels of development is vastly different to the actual reality. Most teachers discard much of the information children chatter about all day. And this is really good practice, generally!

We know that sometimes children come home with all kinds of stories about things they've observed, experienced or heard at school. And I'm sure some of it makes parent's blood boil. The best thing parents can do is listen, make a constructive comment about behaviour you want to encourage and then politely request more information from the class teacher.  Listen to your children with an open mind, sort out the bits that sound valid, and ask more questions of the teacher - if you really need to!

When my daughter was very young, her (very wise) teacher said to me 'I'll believe 50% of what she says at school about home, if you believe 50% of what she comes home and tells you about school!

It seemed like a fair deal.

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